Counseling is an unfolding, allowing our authentic self to come out. The authentic self strives for peace, security, and fulfillment. We release and relinquish the holding power of patterns that threaten our self preservation. Working through these patterns allows us to have an inspired vision - a healthy, thriving future.
The most important questions to ask oneself in therapy are the essential questions: What do I want? Today, tomorrow? In my life to come?
Often the notion of “what one wants” gets quite distorted, possibly forced deep inside by abuse of any form, or living out the “shoulds” that others have planted.
Most individuals make the assumption that they don’t know what they want or will never have what they want in their lives. Understanding the roots of these assumptions is essential to the therapeutic process.
The deeper self, when signaling goals and desires, produces an energy that excites the system and leads to satisfaction.
It is as though we are awakened to an internal electricity or vibration. Doing that which we don’t want - on a daily, essential level - decreases or diminishes our awakened selves. Sometimes there are contractions and expansions, expressions and releases. Yes, counseling includes settling the current stressors, following a solution oriented path. But the larger dynamic involves creative awakening that will inspire the longterm journey - the great human path that is the discovery of the authentic self.
Counseling is an amazing opportunity! Any session can bring breakthrough, relief or insight. Making the decision to enter this process takes courage and commitment. But all that you need can be found inside, and often starts with simply opening.
Firstly, be honest and open with yourself and your therapist. Not only current concerns, but often past events can be painful to talk about. Your therapist will not judge you. This is the chance to trust again. If you’re unhappy, and know what would make you happy, start there. If you don’t know, but have a feeling, an intuition, this is also that chance for trust.
Trust your feelings enough to express them. And trust your therapist - a compassionate, skilled clinician - as someone who is really listening and can objectively see and help.
Actively ask and speak your thoughts, feelings and concerns as the therapeutic process develops, allowing all the possibilities for growth and change. To build this collaborative journey, you will likely follow a plan that offers some regularity, be it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your needs. You should feel safe and comfortable; if in time you find your therapist not quite the right fit, it’s ok to talk about that, too - and to even change therapists, if your needs are not being fulfilled.
Remember a positive truth about therapy: with compassion, honesty and skill, you are on the way to self-discovery and healing.
There are several factors that often stop people from seeking counseling: logistics and time; confusion about the process, or insurance, or who to call, or where and when to start; and sometimes, fear.
With logistics, it’s important to assess for yourself how much you are troubled by a current situation, or how severe your symptoms are. If these feelings are interfering with your life, then it’s time to prioritize.
Sometimes caring, giving people have trouble caring for themselves, and think self-care is selfish. This is not true.
Please do put yourself first when in need, and reach out to get the help you deserve.
Also, please don't wait until symptoms are severe. But if your symptoms are severe, don't let that stop you either: reach out.
It’s not uncommon to fear exposing your innermost thoughts, relaying life events or trauma. We can even fear the necessary changes to move our lives forward, because we’re so accustomed to the way things have been. Entering a revealing process with someone you don't know can be daunting and overwhelming! These are all normal feelings and concerns. But give yourself the chance to try!
With an empathic, skilled therapist, most fears will soon disappear - without a trace! Imagine how good you can feel, unburdening yourself, and learning strategies for improving your life!
The best fit should first feel safe. Feeling safe does not only refer to feeling physically protected, but also to being in a confidential, non-judgment space. Compassion should be an active and realized safe space cultivated by a therapist, and the initial session should reveal the tone and the energy of future sessions.
Questions to ask yourself include: Does my therapist not only listen, but hear my struggle? Is there a developing sense of solution or "a working through the issue"? Is my therapist present, focused mindfully, and empathic?
The best fit also implies a sense of balance between connection and challenge. Will the client receive a pass on destructive behaviors, if present, or will the therapist help to unpack or unravel the roots and motive behind such behaviors?
Connection introduces the concept of trust between therapist and client. Trust is fostered for the uncovering of someone's inner narrative, resistance and vulnerabilities. The therapist should be a trusted guide, but your voice must also continue to be heard in the process - not lost, buried, invalidated, or uncelebrated.
Celebration. Although we don't hear this last word much, the celebration of you - your process, your journey - should very much be part of the connection.
As the therapeutic process continues, the client can question the progress, the process or the direction. The process may involve closure, release of old distress, new awareness, a path to peace, or a greater understanding of oneself.
You’ll know when therapy is working by how you feel long-term.
Remember everyone is different; the process, an individual one, unique to you. Treatment times can vary. Some sessions can be more painful than others as you work through inner pain with your therapist. But symptoms should begin decreasing.
Another way to measure progress is to ask yourself how wholeness feels, how healing feels.
You might start with small points: an increase in self-awareness, because you’re moving along. Perhaps your sleeping and eating improve. You may find you’re not crying as much, or feeling as sad, overwhelmed, or anxious. Maybe you're engaging more with people, not isolating as much. You may rediscover motivation for work and fun that got lost along the way! You may feel happier when you wake up, ready to take on the day. You may sense you’re overcoming loss, and moving forward.
Your therapist will recognize you’re improving too! Your therapist is trained to observe the changes: inwardly, expressed by thoughts, feelings and motivations; and outwardly, like the tone of your voice, or the appearance of rest in your posture, and the frequencies of smiles! When you and your therapist are invested in your wellbeing, change for the better will happen!
Therapy enables new expressions by overcoming fear. We also learn capacities for ownership and self reflection.
In therapy we develop discernment, allowing us to explore the differences between rational thought and feeling. Feelings produce an internal vibration such as warm, cold, tight, erratic, frenzied, hot. These sensations can be translated into recognizable categories: love, fear, tension, anxiety, anger. As we become more aware of these sensations, other people as well as ourselves benefit by no longer needing to infer or guess.
Let's examine the following alternatives of communication:
Someone walks through the door after work, and says: "I am so mad at you. You always start a fight in the morning, just when I am flying out the door to get to work. Make you own dinner!"
Someone walks through the door after work and says: "I tensed up when you walked through the door. Our fight this morning triggered something in me. I am not sure. Let's talk about it."
The first form is an ineffective communication pattern. The second, an opportunity to communicate via a feeling-state with a framework for a more peaceful connection. The more we discern and own our feelings, the more effective the communication, which further helps others know us more deeply.
Blaming, as a mode of communicating, is impotent; blame incites defensiveness. Defensiveness signals attack, a winner or a loser or a long destructive cold war. Both parties must attend to their wounds. Others may trigger deeper feelings in us far greater than the current situation warrants. In some cases these deeper wounds are exposed to enter our awareness, to gain insight and to be healed. These wounds are real, fused in our psyche by distress and trauma. But the person on the other side of the communication may not be the original actor of the original wound. We must step back and ask ourselves, "How much of what I am feeling belongs to this person? Is this the person who lost or abandoned me at the beach? Or did this person just now show up, a little delayed, but ultimately when they said they would?"
This kind of inquiry can lead to a greater expression of your feelings, promoting deeper connections and revealing your vulnerabilities.
As children, we were afraid or did not have the capacity to say what we felt, what was true for us. We may have been punished. Love may have been withheld. In therapy, perceiving these fears underneath and expressing oneself freely allows us to develop forward. Much anxiety stems from deeper fears, and once released and expressed we enter a new freedom - freedom from distress, denial and contraction.
Our vibration is raised and health is restored. We now know more of who we are and can share it.
I believe exploring the past helps us understand why we think, feel and behave in the ways we do today; this exploration can, in turn, help us reach the goals of our work and dreams. In my practice I often combine a psychodynamic approach with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Fostering the connection with one’s “deeper spirit” is significant in the therapeutic process. My training includes Bioenergetics, Gestalt & Psychodynamic therapies, although my desire to learn more about the human condition began long before my life as a therapist. I've had many roles in education, including conflict resolution and leadership advice, where peacemaking is often overlooked. I believe in honoring each other's differences, forgiveness and trust.